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Theoretical basis of rehabilitation psychology

Based on the theoretical knowledge from psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), the investigation of the pathways connecting the mind and the body, we have a greater understanding of how both positive and negative states of mind can affect immune system responses and repair of tissues. One of the ways the body and mind communicate is through the central. Nervous system, and this has particular relevance to how negative emotions and stress can inhibit rehabilitation.

Through a feedback system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis the hypothalamus also controls the body’s response to stress. The HPA axis is extremely effective in situations of acute stress. However, in chronic, long-term stress it can fail to regulate itself leading to an over-production of cortisol. This weakens the functioning of the immune system. In chronic stress, pro-inflammatory cytokines are over-expressed and their anti-inflammatory counterparts are down-regulated.

As well as producing ‘stress’ hormones the hypothalamus also produces calming hormones, such as oxytocin, to promote healing of the body. This leads us to examine whether positive psychological states can mitigate some of the negative consequences of stress and, in addition, help the body to produce hormones that promote healing. Oxytocin is generally associated with nurturing in females. However, it is produced in both males and females and has a major role to play in successful rehabilitation. The main role of oxytocin in the body is to effect growth and repair

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